Follow Us on Twitter

Jack and the Beanstalk - Richmond Theatre (Review)

Jack and the Beanstalk

Review by David Munro

THE Richmond Pantomime has suffered a blow in that Aled Jones, the star, has had to withdraw due to an injury to his Achilles tendon. Having sat through the show, I have to say with due respect to Mr Jones it hasn’t suffered from his absence.

His replacement, Andrew Derbyshire, was extremely good and once he has done something about his hair will even look like a dashing handsome Principal Boy.

What I will say, though, is that whilst this pantomime has all the usual ingredients – funny man, dame, villainous character, Fairy Queen etc. – it just doesn’t jell. Everything is beautifully done and yet it’s too bland and there’s none of that frisson one gets from a really good Panto.

Tudor Davies, as the writer, must I fear take the blame for this; one gets the feel that it’s written by a computer which has been fed the stereotypes and produced a script which, while inoffensive, doesn’t make a bona fide gutsy show.

Mr Davies also appears as Dame Trot and certainly the part he has written for himself must absolve him from any accusation of going on an ego trip. I could have done with much more of the character as Mr Davies made out of what little he had written for himself a very funny and human Dame.

Tim Vine, as Silly Billy, on the other hand rose above his script and took control of the humour. His was a performance in the real pantomime tradition and the children loved him. He even managed to make the hackneyed audience participation song and the children on stage bit amusing and acceptable.

Sue Holderness and John Challis were bitterly disappointing, inaudible, unfunny and all too clearly trading on their TV reputation.

Emma Cannon, as the principal girl, is a virtual unknown and, if last night’s performance is anything to go by, is likely to remain so. She is pretty but performs like an animated Barbie doll, which I suppose is what the part calls for. She wasn’t helped by having songs to sing which were clearly outside her range.

I did like Daisy the cow, who was just what she should have been, simpering, funny and outrageous; I congratulate her animators, Adam Maskell and AC Garcia for a most entertaining performance.

The chorus danced and sung well in the Panto tradition even if the sets and costumes looked as though they had been borrowed from a village hall production; glamour, I’m afraid, was sadly lacking.

I must admit that despite my carping the show was professional and, if the audience were anything to go by, successful. I do wish though that Pantomime producers would not follow the principle that “anything goes” and produce shows that are just acceptable.

Pantomime repays lavish care and attention and if so produced is a joy forever; this sadly does not fall into that category. Nonetheless, with all its faults the audience clearly found it extremely enjoyable and that ,after all, is what Pantomime is all about.

Jack and the Beanstalk – book by Tudor Davies.
Directed by Peter Denyer.
Choreographer – Gerry Zuccarello.
Lighting – Bob Bustance.
Music Director – Mathew Shaw.
CAST: Andrew Derbyshire; John Challis; Sue Holderness; Tim Vine; Tudor Davies; Graham Seed; Emma Cannon; Olivia Fines; Erin Hutton; Danielle Stephen; Adam Maskell; AC Garcia; Paul Michael Jones; Babette Langford.

Presented by David Ian and Howard Panter for First Family Entertainment.
Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 IQJ.
Friday, Dec 8 2006 until Sunday, Jan 21, 2007.
Evenings: 7pm/Matinees: 2pm.
Sundays 1.30 & 5.30pm.
Box Office: 0870 060 6651.